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Occupational Skin Diseases Due to Biologic, Physical, and Chemical Agents at a Glance
  • Certain occupations are associated with an increased risk of infection (viral, bacterial, fungal, parasitic), arthropod bites and stings, or infestations.
  • Mechanical trauma is common in the workplace and can have skin manifestations.
  • Preexisting skin conditions may be aggravated by work-related mechanical trauma.
  • Occupational skin granulomas can be immunogenic (e.g., beryllium induced) or nonimmunogenic (e.g., silica induced).
  • Occupational skin diseases can result from excessive heat, cold, and other atmospheric factors such as low humidity in the workplace.
  • Exposure to silica, vinyl chloride, and other chemical agents can cause systemic sclerosis and limited scleroderma-like disease.
  • Occupational chloracne is one of the most sensitive indicators of toxic exposure to halogenated aromatic hydrocarbons such as dioxins and PCBs.
  • Occupational skin cancers due to exposure to chemical carcinogens or to ultraviolet light are a major health concern.

Noneczematous skin diseases caused by biologic, physical, and chemical agents in the workplace are discussed in this chapter. Trauma-related eczema is also included. For epidemiology, incidence, and management of occupational skin diseases, refer to Chapter 211.

Workers in healthcare, food services, cleaning and maintenance, and outdoor occupations are at a risk of developing skin infections. Table 212-1 lists some of the occupations associated with increased risk of certain infections.1

Table 212-1 Occupational Skin Infections

Establishing a definite relationship between work and a specific infection is not always simple. Laboratory isolation of the infective organism and a supporting medical history and physical examination are helpful.

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